The line was long, as it always was on a work day at that hour. They would be harried and overwhelmed by the sheer number of human workers. They would be more likely to make mistakes. Assuming they made mistakes; no one was sure.
"Step forward." The Vylid had a soft, raspy voice like a dry wind blowing through crumpled paper. The man three people in front of Marla moved hesitantly up to stand at the white line, between the pair of huge Grodon guards.
From behind her, a whisper. "I don't recognize you."
Marla, standing with arms crossed in front of her, said nothing.
The whisper came again. "Are you supposed to be here?"
Marla glanced over her shoulder: a middle-aged woman, too thin. "There's no talking in line."
The woman moved forward, staying just behind Marla. "Where are you from?"
"You're going to get us punished, we shouldn't be talking."
"They don't care, if you're quiet." The woman leaned in closer. "They'll scan you. They scan everyone. You know that, right?"
Marla ran her thumb over the three symbols on her forearm. The brand felt strange, foreign. "I'm where I'm supposed to be."
Marla would be next. One of the massive guards stepped heavily away from the table, came lumbering slowly down the line, came right past her.
The woman whispered again when the guard was out of earshot, "It's all right, you can tell them you got on the wrong bus, that you made a mistake."
Marla didn't hesitate; the die was cast now.
She handed her ID card to the remaining guard, who handed it to the seated Vylid. The willowy creature typed something into its computer, and then nodded to the guard. Marla offered her arm.
The Grodon held a scanner against her forearm where the three symbols were tattooed on a grafted piece of a dead woman's skin. The scanner beeped.
The raspy voice spoke to her. "Move through."
Glad to see someone else did a futuristic/dystopian take on the prompt. Nice!ReplyDelete
Yey, I'm not alone in alien Sci Fi, even if yours holds more hope for Humanity than mine.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure what hope the Human race has after being conquered by the Association... theoretically they'd eventually reach Class C or even B status, after about a thousand years of doing the cheap manual labor. The Association is basically a big Pyramid Scheme. But it's gonna be a loooooong time. :/Delete
That is quite interesting. She handled it pretty well. Is it now going to turn into a conspiracy caused by Marla from within!? I wonder...ReplyDelete
I'm not sure whether this is Marla as part of a rebellion, or if this is Marla just trying to get by. Though, I think she'd have to have help to get the skin graft, and I've previously established in "Parole" that there *is* a rebellion going on at some point, so...Delete
David, a most compelling take on the prompt. You certainly built the suspense but I also enjoyed how there was still a breath of humanity from the woman behind her, even in such dark and barren circumstances.ReplyDelete
Really well done.
Thanks very much :-) The woman in line behind her was supposed to just be a way to ramp up the tension, but in the end I think she's an interesting character too, or could be if we knew more about her.Delete
I agree completely, David. Why would a stranger (in such circumstances) take the chance of talking in the line up to warn someone of the danger she felt they were facing? That seems like unusual strength of spirit and something that would be wonderful to know more about. :))Delete
The suspense was a nice steady build. I'm glad the other woman didn't rat her out, but it makes me wonder what they are going into if the woman was trying to talk her out of entering.ReplyDelete
I don't know; Possibly some sort of factory facility, or a transportation hub. It could even be where they distribute food rations.Delete
Ooo. Aliens, dystopian landscape, fabulous. I loved how quiet this was, her touching the brand, the whispering of their conversation the voice description of the Vylid.ReplyDelete
Thanks very much! :-)Delete
This is eerie and very creepy. Marla is a very determined character and I like how she will not let the woman behind her sway what she is doing.ReplyDelete
I think she has a certain amount of fatalism bred by desperation. I also wonder whether she came by the skin graft 'honestly'; it's possible she could have murdered its previous owner to get it. There's lots of possibilities, which I like. :-)Delete
Ooh! Intriguing! Very well done. I thoroughly enjoyed this.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much! :-)Delete
"on a grafted piece of a dead woman's skin" - daaamn, what a great way to illustrate her desperation. Nice one David!ReplyDelete
Thank you :-)Delete
IT works, by itself, though part of something longer.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much. :-)Delete
It's not really part of a longer piece, except in the sense that this the 'Association' is a universe I come back to a lot. Gotta love those post-alien-invasion dystopias!
So much tension as that line moved. I love it.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much! :-)Delete
The build-up had me on the edge of my seat. That was a clever trick. Thank you for linking up!ReplyDelete
Thanks for reading and commenting :-)Delete
Very interesting!!Are you writing more of this? We always need more great SyFy stories!ReplyDelete
There are more stories set in this universe under the 'Association' tag. :-) And I'm sure I'll write more.Delete